New intervention could help patients lose weight in their sleep

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. are looking to recruit volunteers for a trial that will test hypoxia – a state where the body does not receive sufficient amounts of oxygen – as an intervention for Type 2 diabetes press release from the university announced. 

Often seen in ages above 45, Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects one in 10 Americans today. Insulin is a hormone used by the body to control sugar levels in the blood. In some individuals, cells stop responding to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Besides negatively impacting daily lives, increased blood sugar levels also increase an individual’s risk of developing health issues in the eye and the heart. 

Conventional treatment of diabetes includes maintaining a healthy weight and reducing blood sugar levels through a combination of diet and exercise. Researchers have also found that many factors and barriers may prevent diabetic patients from initiating lifestyle changes.

Using a weight loss treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

Multiple studies have shown that hypoxia improves blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss. Although scientists do not fully understand how this works, it is suggested that hypoxia burns more calories in the body, resulting in lower appetites in individuals. With a lesser intake and more expenditure of stored energy, individuals have been seen to lose weight when sleeping in reduced oxygen environments. 

Now a team of researchers led by Dr. Ant Shephard at the School of Sport, Health and Exercise at the University of Portsmouth are looking to deploy the method to replicate the gains in patients with Type 2 Diabetes under controlled conditions and try to gain a deeper understanding of the how the treatment works.

To achieve this, the researchers are looking to recruit 15 volunteers for the first phase of their trial, which the participants can be a part of from the comfort of their homes. 

How will the study be conducted? 

Each volunteer will be provided with a sleeping tent in which they have to sleep for 10-day periods on two separate occasions. The tent which will control the oxygen levels available for the volunteer during their sleep will be set up by the research team in the volunteer’s home.

For one of the 10-day periods, the oxygen levels will be set to 15 percent. While this may sound significantly lower than what we breathe in regularly, it is about the oxygen concentration one would find at high altitudes or even inside an airplane, the press release said. 

The trial will be conducted over a period of eight weeks, during which participants will wear smart monitors, keep a food diary and provide blood, urine, and stool samples for analysis. They will also undergo body composition scans, and their blood glucose levels will be tested to understand how their bodies react to hypoxia. 

“With the number of people living with Type 2 Diabetes expected to reach 700 million worldwide by 2045, is it vital that we find other successful interventions to help us treat and manage the condition, and make people’s day-to-day lives better,”  added Dr. Shephard in the press release.  


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